Would you glue your hand to your grip to keep riding? BB4 did.
Blake Baggett had a great season in 2017 and it was a breakthrough of sorts for the Rocky Mountain ATV/MC KTM racer as he established himself as a championship contender for the first time in the 450 class. Sadly, a broken hand in the latter part of the 450 MX Nationals slowed his charge and allowed the title to slip out of his grasp. Healed up and ready to go, Baggett is out to get some in 2018.
Are you all healed up and 100-percent ready to go?
I would say 100-percent put back together and ready to go. (Laughs)
Last year, it was phenomenal for you in many ways. It got cut short a little with injuries, but you have to be happy with the showing you had in the 450 class.
Definitely. I think it was a good year for me. I didn't get the exact overall Supercross finish that I wanted to. It's kind of crazy, the first year I actually raced 450s I ended up fifth overall and this year I got sixth, but this year was more noticeable and had more highlights to it. I want to build off of that. Outdoors I was battling for a championship and you can't ask for anything better than to fight for a championship and lead the points. I came up a little bit short, but the sponsors are happy and that's what everybody dreams of doing. Of course, the goal is to win and everybody's idea is to come in and win, but all of the other guys on the starting line have that same feeling so if you can bring it down to the last moto and be in that fight in either series, you've had a good year.
You've obviously won championships before. Did being in that position with the red plate feel familiar to you or was it different because it was in the 450 class?
I think sometimes if you think about it too much, the red plate can be heavy, but at the same time, I felt really good when I had it. It was just a mistake on my end that caused me my injury and after I got injured I just stayed in the fight. There were many weekends where I was going to call it quits and get my hand fixed and get surgery and be done. With the sponsors that I have this year, the team, and the mechanics and everybody behind me, the thought was that if it's already damaged as bad as it could get then I would try to grunt it out and maybe luck would play into it. It didn't end up going that way, but we were there every weekend. It wasn't like we were wasting time or pondering around. I put up the best fight I could.
You're one of the gnarliest dudes at riding through adversity. I heard that you were using Velcro to keep your hand on the grips…
Yeah, it got to the point where the thumb was so bad and I had no hand strength. My thumb just kept folding over on me and the joint was unstable. We had a hard plastic outside brace to hold the thumb in place and it was taped as much as we could inside the glove. It was taped around the outside of the glove with Velcro stitched to the glove and onto the throttle tube. There was spray adhesive on the rest of the grip and throttle tube at the last two rounds. We did what we could.
What'd that do for the classic professor Bailey re-grip when you twisted the throttle?
There was no re-grip. (Laughs) It was whatever you grabbed on the starting line, that's what you're stuck with until the Velcro and glue eventually gave out. It would get me to about the halfway point sometimes, other times a little less, but it helped me get through it because I didn't have to hold on that tight. It made it tough in some sections and corners that I couldn't ride like myself because I couldn't re-grip. The hand was weak so I had to favor some areas that I would've liked to have been on the gas.
Moving onto this year and the new bike, I understand that today or last week was one of the first times you've ridden it. What are your impressions?
It's definitely different for sure, and it's got a lot of different characteristics to it. I think some of the older stuff we had relays over to it, but all-in-all, in general, I feel really comfortable with it and I think by today's showing we're pretty good.